Thursday, March 20, 2014

Crane nomenclature borrowing from equine nomenclature

Female cranes are known as mares, male cranes are known as roans and the chicks are known as colts [1,2].

Commonly, the term mare is associated with an adult female horse. The term roan refers to a particular color pattern—a mixture of white and color (for example, white or gray sprinkles on a brown coat)—found in animals such as horses and dogs. A horse showing this coat color pattern is called a roan. 

Somehow, these terms made it from the equine into crane terminology. Alex Shoumatoff notes (page 59 in [2]):

For some reason crane nomenclature is borrowed from horse terms. A mother crane is called a mare, the dads are roans. The terminology sounds like it was created out West.

Keywords: biology, ornithology, terminology, male, female.

References and more to explore
[1] Kachemak Crane Watch: SandHill Cranes, August 20, 2008 [].
[2] Alex Shoumatoff: Flight Club. Smithsonian March 2014, 44 (11), pp. 54-67.

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